Split Leesburg Commission votes to hold fireworks show despite COVID-19 concerns

Leesburg Commissioner Jay Hurley

After some contentious and emotional debate Monday night, a split Leesburg Commission made it official – the city will host its annual fireworks show on July 4.

The Commission had heard a request from City Manager Al Minner on June 8 to cancel the event for public safety reasons due to the ever-increasing size of the crowds – many of whom come from other communities to see the annual show. During that meeting, Minner said his concerns weren’t really based on the COVID-19 pandemic – Leesburg was reporting just 48 cases of the potentially deadly virus at the time.

On Monday night, Minner said in addition to his concerns for public safety, the fact that COVID-19 cases had increased dramatically – they more than doubled to 97 in a two-week period – also should be considered.

Commissioner Dan Robuck III agreed and said he had spoken to a high-ranking medical official at UF Health Leesburg Hospital who said the fireworks show definitely should be canceled. Commissioner John Christian also supported the idea of calling off the event.

But Commissioner Jay Hurley, as he had done on June 8, made an impassioned plea for the fireworks show to go on. He said the majority of the recent uptick in Coronavirus cases in Florida was in metropolitan areas and the southern portion of the state. He also pointed out the immense amount of unrest and turmoil across the country and said it would be a good thing to bring people together to celebrate our freedom and independence.

“I’m 110 percent for celebrating our independence on the Fourth of July in Leesburg,” he said to a rousing round of applause for packed-house audience at the Venetian Center.

Commissioner Mike Pederson agreed and the deciding vote fell to Mayor Elise Dennison, who voted yes and then encouraged attendees to practice social distancing and take all precautions possible.

The festivities for the event will begin at 6 p.m. at Venetian Gardens. September Dogs will perform a concert beginning at 7 p.m. and there will be a kids play zone, a juggler, a balloon artist, a photo booth, a stilt walker, a water ski show, festive foods, vendors and more.

The Leesburg Partnership, which is putting on the event, has promised to maintain social distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attendees are being asked to limit their groups to 10 people or less, remain six feet away from others and wear masks when appropriate. Hand-washing stations equipped with soap and sanitizer stations also will be staged throughout the event.

Viewing of the fireworks show, which will begin at 9:15 a.m., also can be done from vehicles or boats. Those who aren’t feeling well or have tested positive for COVID-19 are being asked to stay home. The Partnership also is warning that attendees will be at their own risk and they are not liable for any incidences of the Coronavirus.

More Headlines

Villager’s troubled son leaps to his death from cell phone tower

A Villager’s troubled son leapt to his death from cell a phone tower on the Historic Side of The Villages.

Villager wants buffer to shield his home from noise from Turnpike

A Villager wants a buffer to shield his home from noise from the Florida Turnpike.

Photos

Hawk In Flight Around Village Of Collier

Check out this hawk that was spotted flying above the Village of Collier. Thanks to Cindy Farkus for sharing! Share your local photos with us...

Old Truck At Brownwood Paddock Square In Black And White

Check out this awesome black and white shot of the old truck at Brownwood Paddock Square. Thanks to Ron Clark for sharing! Share your local...

Brown Anole With Extended Dewlap

This brown anole with an extended dewlap was spotted on Fenney Nature Trail. Thanks to Naly de Carvalho for sharing! Share your local photos with...

Letters to the Editor

Morses could help refute the distorted picture of The Villages

Two Villages couples, speaking out jointly in a Letter to the Editor, contend the Morses could help refute the distorted picture of The Villages.

Business

Two Cody’s Original Roadhouse locations preparing to reopen in The Villages

Two of the three Cody’s Original Roadhouse locations in The Villages are preparing to reopen Wednesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crime

‘Apologetic’ suspect arrested in theft of merchandise at Wal-Mart

An “apologetic” suspect was arrested in the theft of merchandise at Wal-Mart at Buffalo Ridge Plaza in The Villages.

Opinions

Is it too much a task to wear a mask?

Hugo Buchanan, writing in an Opinion piece, wonders if it is too much a task to wear a mask?

Top Stories

Deadly COVID-19 virus continues to hammer The Villages and nearby communities

Sixty-seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in and around The Villages on Monday as Florida continued to see massive increases in new patients battling the potentially deadly virus.

Villager’s troubled son leaps to his death from cell phone tower

A Villager’s troubled son leapt to his death from cell a phone tower on the Historic Side of The Villages.

Villager wants buffer to shield his home from noise from Turnpike

A Villager wants a buffer to shield his home from noise from the Florida Turnpike.

Letters to the Editor

Morses could help refute the distorted picture of The Villages

Two Villages couples, speaking out jointly in a Letter to the Editor, contend the Morses could help refute the distorted picture of The Villages.

Destroying the Hacienda pool and restaurant

A Village of De La Vista North resident, in a Letter to the Editor, points to the demolition of Hacienda Hills Country Club and says she’s very disappointed with the way things are going in that area of The Villages.

The Villages Daily Sun finally gets it!

A Village of Hillsborough resident says that after months of ignoring the Coronavirus crisis, The Villages Daily Sun is finally understanding the significant threat of COVID-19. Read his Letter to the Editor.

Crime

‘Apologetic’ suspect arrested in theft of merchandise at Wal-Mart

An “apologetic” suspect was arrested in the theft of merchandise at Wal-Mart at Buffalo Ridge Plaza in The Villages.

Speeding driver from Mexico arrested near Okahumpka Service Plaza

A speeding driver from Mexico was arrested near the Okahumpka Service Plaza.

Oxford woman jailed after Facebook-inspired brawl sends ‘friend’ to ER

An Oxford woman was jailed after a Facebook-inspired brawl sent her “friend” to the emergency room.